Editor’s note: Over the next few months, we will be featuring brief profiles of members of ALG’s Leadership Africa Cohort 3. This month we are featuring Helen Bradshaw and Fatima Benameur.
Helen Bradshaw and Fatima Benameur come to the African Leadership Group’s Leadership Africa program from very different backgrounds, but with a common purpose in mind: Becoming more effective leaders in and advocates for their communities.
And in the early days of Leadership Africa Cohort 3, both women say the program is helping them make meaningful connections and providing them with precisely what they need to move forward as leaders.
Helen has decades of experience as a community leader in Denver. She has worked on more advocacy projects than there is room to list here, but they include Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 100 Black Men Who Cook, Metro Caring, the Denver Foundation, the Black Arts Festival, and Together Colorado.
“Papa Dia (ALG’s founder and executive director) developed a relationship while I was working on some of these events,” Helen said recently. “And when I did my homework on ALG, I found that it’s an alignment with everything that I’m doing in the community, so I know that we’ll be able to make a difference working together.”
Fatima, who immigrated from Morocco in 2001, has worked extensively as an Arabic and French translator for local immigrants. She provides translation services on immigration and law enforcement issues, medical appointments, as well as a wide variety of other community needs.
Fatima will be receiving her Master’s degree in special education and art next month from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Before joining Leadership Africa, she participated in cohort 12 of the ALG’s renowned Public Speaking Class.
It was while she was in the public speaking course that she was encouraged to apply for Leadership Africa. It was an easy sell. “I have been through a leadership program before, but there is nothing like feeling like you’re home with your own people,” she said. “You feel like you’re welcome. You feel like you’re accepted.”
After the first two sessions, both women said that Leadership Africa is meeting and exceeding expectations. “Even though there have been only two sessions so far, I’ve already teamed up with a few people in class,” Helen said. “And we’re already starting to do some things in the community,” specifically around working in churches on workforce development issues.
“Leadership Africa is going to open doors. It is providing me with the opportunity to build bridges,” Helen said.
And for Fatima, Leadership Africa, even in these early days, “takes you to another level of being out there, opening those doors of knowledge. As you mature as you grow older, you need to shape the knowledge you have gained from life. Going back and doing it this way with my community, it’s really uplifting to me as a person and as an African future leader.”